NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship

Turning Me Into We: The Entrepreneur’s Journey

"Genuine leadership is what emerges when we are fully and freely ourselves."

— Betsy Myers, Take the Lead

"Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation."

— Simon Sinek, Start with Why

All summer long here on Tumblr I have been suggesting specific homework assignments and writing about them. They are designed to help entrepreneurs retain a sense of self while collaborating and problem-solving with others. They are designed to foster a legacy and gain new outlooks about life, and about the nature of entrepreneurship. Here they are again: 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.

3. Read more!

4. Play more!

5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.

These pointers are based on my personal and professional experience. They are based on takeaways learned as an ed-tech consultant, public speaker, and educator/pediatric speech-language pathologist and Autism specialist turned social entrepreneur. They are also based on my ongoing belief that the startup journey is ALL about: 

• Balancing humanity and technology; the topic of my business book, The NICE Reboot, which you can learn more about here

• Discerning patterns to increase creativity; the topic of my latest article for The Huffington Post, which you can read here

If you had to write an open letter to today’s entrepreneur, what would you write about?

P.S. I wrote one last week on Wordpress, and you can read it here

If I had to write another one, I would write about the lessons learned the hard way, and learned by having an uncool startup. I would write about how collaboration drives innovation. I would write about the much needed pursuit of social entrepreneurship, which is different than social innovation. I would write about the crucial ‘trep mindset; turning Me > We.

Attention women entrepreneurs: Choose to pay it forward! Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others. 


1. Thought leadership, whether in real time or online, is the key to creating a hub, an ecosystem, where collaboration can truly make a difference. 

2. Thought leadership, whether through speaking or writing, is the vehicle through which an entrepreneur can showcase his/her humanity in an increasingly high-tech world. 

3. Mentorship has an ever expanding reach thanks to social media. More than ever, it can impact on our strategy to provide a service/product others can learn from and use to pay it forward.

4. Mentorship fills in the gaps re: skills entrepreneurs won’t learn in school.

There is a persistent myth that leadership only applies to boardrooms and classrooms, something Betsy Myers writes about so well in her excellent book, Take the Lead. In truth, entrepreneurs, especially women founders, are in a great position to become real leaders, not just bosses, and forever change the playing field….

• To be role models and lead the next generation

• To  give and contribute to the shared economy

• To  be successful and help others become successful too

Women are intrinsically hardwired to measure success by how much of an impact they have on community, not just themselves and/or their family. The Digital Age and shared economy are further causing us to rethink success and civic engagement, and their effects on work/life balance. Men are also rethinking work/life balance and the importance of turning Me > We. 

Are you? 

To be continued…..





Play= Happiness

"Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself."

— Alice Walker

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

— Mahatma Ghandi

(Want more quotes on happiness? Click here.)

I’ve just returned from a digital detox the past few days, where I took a vacation, a partial time out. I took a mini-break from the routine of my life, from all my social media channels and hats, and from the constant hustle of entrepreneurship. I see things differently, feel things more intensely (while paradoxically being more mellow!), and have learned some new things about the world, and about myself. I’m also much happier about the path I’m on; personally and professionally. 

For many of us, the glorification of busy has become a way of life, eroding our work/life balance, our happiness, and even our ability to truly make a difference and leave a legacy behind. Maybe that’s why my book, The NICE Reboot, is all about balancing humanity and technology. Maybe that’s why I’m a huge advocate of play, one of the homework assignments I’ve suggested here on Tumblr in my current series: 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.

3. Read more!

4. Play more!

5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.

Play More!

As a pediatric speech therapist and someone in touch with my “inner child”, I’ve always valued taking time to play. Play is the vehicle for both self expression and personal growth, as children and as adults. It leads to increased happiness, increased productivity, and increased creativity; all of which are crucial to today’s success in entrepreneurship. 

That’s why I was so saddened by the sudden passing of Robin Williams, whom I wrote about in my latest LinkedIn and Wordpress posts. Robin was a connoisseur of both the art of play and of human nature. He had the unique ability to harness time (especially comedic timing) and showcase both the humor and pathos of our daily lives. He brought much happiness to many who saw his incredible films and crossed his path. He taught us so much about diversity, perseverance, and play. 

Play is something that can and should be honed, on a regular basis.

It replenishes one’s “battery” on so many levels. Why? Because it taps into our episodic memory and our physical, emotional, and intellectual sides; sometimes simultaneously. Play is thus the byproduct of the intersection of happiness and creativity, that elusive alchemy needed for the origin of ideas.

An entrepreneur in today’s startup culture NEEDS to make time for play:

1. To exercise the imagination, the most important business skill to hone.

2. To impact the future of work and gain an edge over the competition.

3. To discern patterns and disrupt them, so that outdated cultural tropes are eliminated and new ones take their place. 

Play= Happiness. Happiness leads to increased drive and subsequent success. Success, no matter what one’s definition of it is, is what learning and living is all about. Real living starts to happen when you find happiness by having the courage to let go of what you can’t change.  

Play is about choosing happiness, living in the moment, and riding the wave that makes you reboot. 

To be continued……



The Art of Play

“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.”

— Louisa May Alcott

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once that child grows up."

— Pablo Picasso

As you may know, my current series here on Tumblr has been exploring the summer homework I previously suggested for entrepreneurs: 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.

3. Read more!

4. Play more!

5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.

Last week, I began to address point #4 and asked this question: 

Can play and productivity co-exist in entrepreneurship?

You can catch up and read it here. I’ve been an advocate of play both professionally as an Autism Specialist and personally as an entrepreneur for a long time. I’ve written about the importance of play in various blogposts and in my book, The NICE Reboot.

But I haven’t truly lived it for a while. Like many bootstrapping startup entrepreneurs, I have been trying for over a year (since I knew my book was going to be published by Maven House Press) to burn the candle at both ends, balance work/life responsibilities and goals, and still find some “Me” time. Time to unplug. Time to strategize. Time to learn. Time to regroup. When I saw that certain business ventures didn’t pan out, and that I had a choice how to handle my setbacks re: launching The NICE Initiative both in terms of productivity and attitude, I knew that it was time to take off some time to reboot.


So I want to share 3 insights and several links about the art of play…..

I write about this now during the height of summer, at a time when many of us are on autopilot. At a time many of us are trying to align our digital avatars with our real time personae….. and all the hats we wear in between.

Many of us are trying to better manage stress  brought on by juggling. By our attempts to create more optimal work times . By our attempts to better balance humanity and technology, my raison d’être as an entrepreneur. 

It’s time to face the reality that our brains work best in more natural, organic environments, and that many of us are losing the battle to find that balance and milieu. It’s time to admit that multitasking isn’t good for us, and that the iEra balancing act can play havoc with our learning, our creativity, and our game face; the one I wrote about in my latest Wordpress post. 

Hence this post on the art of play. Much has been written on the art of war and entrepreneurial lessons, some of which you can read here. This interesting post touches on another war; the silent war between women in business, and is about the art of collaboration between women to help more attain success; a caveat to my latest Wordpress post (see link above).

But what about the art of play?

Why is it something for today’s entrepreneur to think about? 

1. Play increases our innovation. Taking time off to play allows the brain to “connect the dots” in new, unexpected ways instead of following the crowd; toxic for entrepreneurship. 

2. Play increases our undivided attention. Taking time off to play reacquaints oneself with one’s inner child who pursues a task with rigorous intention and focus instead of multitasking; detrimental to entrepreneurship. 

3. Play increases our tolerance for uncertainty and chaos. Taking time off to play helps us embrace the mess instead of pursuing perfectionism; the bane of entrepreneurship. 

So take time off and get out of your routine and comfort zone like me. Take time to play. Make a play date or two and see what happens; within yourself and to those surrounding your “circle of influence”. Start learning the answer to that question that you hear, if you listen closely, if you are mellow enough, and patient enough, to truly live in the moment and concentrate:

Who do you want to be?

(Thanks Alan Ristić for this awesome quote and photo!) 

Everyone gets on a soapbox about the importance of play, especially in education. I believe that more of us in entrepreneurship need to sound the call as well, and ask this very question! 

To be continued……..





Can Productivity and Play Co-Exist in Entrepreneurship?

"Playful moments are really learning opportunities in disguise."

— Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Dr. Roberta Michnick- Golnikoff, Authors: Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

"Cell phones, mobile e-mail, and all the other cool and slick gadgets can cause massive losses in our creative output and overall productivity."

— Robin Sharma, Author: The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life

I’ve always been a visual learner, which is probably why I was drawn to helping children with Autism and drawn to Apple™ tech. It’s why I’ve been a Fem Geek/Techie and Mac Girl since I was a kid, before Goldiblox, Scientist Girl Lego, and Entrepreneur Barbie made their respective debut. it’s why I became a fan of social media and a professional iPad Evangelist since 2011. It’s probably why I wrote my book, The NICE Reboot; a visual and methodical primer for today’s woman entrepreneur. 

Suffice it to say, when Apple recently launched its latest iPhone Ad about streamlining one’s daily routines entitled “Dreams” (a misnomer if you ask me), I was stoked. I was initially impressed; albeit from a marketing perspective re: emotional resonance and aesthetics. But upon closer inspection, I began to feel a real sense of disquiet. A real sense of unease about the message it’s sending; especially to our future generation of children who need to grow up to become the rain makers, game changers, and innovators our world so desperately needs. I think the commercial should instead be renamed “Ode to Non-Stop Work”. I found this tragically funny, spot on article on CNET which backs me up (although I thought of this before seeing that post!). 

Which brings me to point #4 in the current theme I have here on Tumblr;  homework assignments for the entrepreneur. You may recall that this summer I suggested 5 homework suggestions for the entrepreneur, and have been writing posts here based on that list: 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.

3. Read more!

4. Play more!

5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.

Today I want to focus on this assignment:


I’m a known, vocal advocate of play, and of combing toys and tech in education; especially special education. I believe that play does matter, and that for children, free play IS the best summer school. But I believe that for entrepreneurs in particular, play IS the best homework assignment to take seriously. Play is something that needs to be scheduled deliberately and creatively, in between racing to cross things off our to-do list, maintaining communication with our colleagues and clients, and planning/pitching to future clients in real time and online.

It’s getting harder and harder for today’s entrepreneur to concretely juggle work/life and reframe success/failure. Especially within an arena where personal productivity is achieved in small increments, requires a level of tech savvy previously unseen in the workplace, and subsequent  happiness is relatively subjective.

Entrepreneurs are trying so hard to impact our globally connected yet psycho-socially fragmented culture. We try so hard to implement changes in overall thinking and doing, through our service/product we present to the world. It therefore behooves us to remember that always working does NOT mean working well, and that PLAY is the key to long term implementation of our mission, of our product/service. Why? Because play hones our critical thinking and creativity. It’s the ultimate checks and balances needed to navigate the startup maze and the workplace labyrinth becoming more confusing every day. 

Play is the vehicle through which one gets reacquainted with different aspects of one’s persona, drive, and parts of one’s psyche. Play helps us accesses episodic memory which is needed as a frame of reference, especially in these rapidly changing times. Play enables us to thus combine old learning with new learning. It’s something I discus in my Socially Speaking™ Seminars and something written about in a terrific book I’m almost done reading (and plan to blog about on Wordpress).

In Creativity Inc. specific and surprising strategies are eloquently discussed, in laymen’s terms, which utilize play. The result? Getting in touch with one’s inner child, to redefine inspiration, problem solving,  and ultimately productivity in the workplace. The book makes a lot of sense and is a primer of sorts about collaboration; one of the key skills needed in today’s iEra and shared economy. The book gives some very interesting food for thought about the nature of learning, the nature of growth, and the nature play. 

The nature and process of play helps one harness creativity so that better problem solving can ensue. Today’s entrepreneur needs to remember this, so he/she can learn to discerns patterns that lead to better self actualization and innovation. Entrepreneurs need to take time to play. So that creativity and problem solving can be honed. So that he/she can reboot the attitude & balance between humanity and technology. 

This has formed the foundation of my mission and  my raison d’être for launching The NICE Initiative. This has formed my conduct as both an educator and entrepreneur.

My beliefs have led me to these 3 lessons I want to share about play: 

1. Play helps fuel imagination; the MOST essential business skill to hone in today’s Digital Age where automated tasks and machine learning is becoming the norm in some workplaces, forcing humans to compete with robots/tech for jobs. 

2. Play helps fuel our dreams AND our ability to make them happen; especially in the startup arena where low costs and ubiquitous virtual mentorship and tech abound. 

3. Play helps fuel an appreciation of “living in the moment” and  internalizing our experiences i.e. learning from the process. It’s something we all need to ponder seriously, and not just because of the “mindfulness kick” so many are on. We need to counteract the reality that our present startup culture is all about forecasting the future and sprinting to the finish line/the outcome, instead of enjoying the journey. We often miss out on the subsequent sequential and incremental growth, which results from taking our time and deliberately taking detours to keep learning, keep innovating, and keep our mindset, attitude, and outlook fresh. 

We all need to take time to play. So that we can shape our Theory of Mind and reshape our attitude about what’s important in life. So that we can improve our soft skills which are so needed in this post social media era. So that we achieve better work/life balance and real productivity, instead of glorifying the state of being busy.  

As we grow into adulthood the nature of our play may change, the time allotted for play may shrink, and the toys may become more complex (not to mention expensive!). But the underlying purpose, practice, and process remain the same.

Play is what reshapes our attitude; the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. 

To be continued……


Three Questions for Entrepreneurs to Ask

"Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers."

— Former First Lady Laura Bush

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things."

— Former CEO of Apple™ Inc. Steve Jobs

This summer I suggested 5 homework suggestions for the entrepreneur, and have been writing posts here on Tumblr based on that list: 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.

3. Read more!

4. Play more!

5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.

I’ve already addressed points #1 and 2 in my previous posts. You can go back to my 4 digital detox tips to see what I mean. You can catch up on last week’s post with this awesome Infographic about crafting a digital footprint that goes viral. Today, I want to address point #3, which I will probably address next time as well: 


I still remember my junior high school teacher’s booming voice and summer directive for all the students on the last day of school, eagerly awaiting that last bell so they could gleefully shout “No more teachers, no more books….”. But I actually looked forward to going to the library and reading books for pleasure, for summer homework, and what my friends were reading so we could discuss it in our impromptu “book club”. Books are the only real thing you can buy that enriches your life. Reading is the secret weapon to counteract ignorance, inertia, boredom, and narcissism. Reading is a must for today’s entrepreneur who needs to stay current and stay sharp, so that patterns can be discerned, innovation can ensue, and these 3 questions can be asked and answered on a regular basis: 

1. What did I learn from this? 

I’m a believer that we are both student and teacher in life and that every day brings new opportunities for takeaways to analyze and internalize. Learning is a lifelong process and one can learn so much from reading; the most educational tool in a founder’s toolbox. Reading takes on new meaning in the Digital Age, where social media can provide profound, deceptively simple, sublime, and succinct lessons and sound bytes for the entrepreneur on the go. See this list of 40 quotes to get an idea of what I mean. Reading expands one’s Theory of Mind (outlook, perspective) and actually helps you get along with others. See this Slideshare deck I created of a post by Diane Bertolin on 5 takeaways she got from reading my book, The NICE Reboot. Thanks, Diane! 

2. What’s my passion, my purpose, my loadstone?

Reading books, especially re: the creativity and legacy of great work people do, can be very insightful and inspiring, not to mention entertaining. That’s why I read a wide variety of books usually at the same time! It’s not unusual for me to be juggling several books and genres at once, either on my Kindle App and/or from the library, the secret arsenal of entrepreneurs. I also like to go to Barnes and Noble to browse, and I’m a big fan of finding free eBooks to read either using my Kindle App for iPad, or the native iBooks App. Here’s a free list of 8 eBook links to check out. I’m currently in the middle of reading several good books helping me ponder this question: Creativity, Inc. The Confidence Code: What Women Should Know, Insurgent,  Ali in Wonderland, and the Chopped Cookbook, just to name a few. The TV show “Chopped” has been on my radar for while re: this question. I just wrote about it in my latest post for Wordpress, which you can read here

3. What soft skills do I need to hone? 

Reading can be life-changing, depending on which book you open!  One’s skill set is nurtured over time, usually through action. But the intent to act, the desire and the strategy, are forged in thought, usually when one thinks about what one reads and combines it with the episodic memory of previous actions. That’s why soft skills are so fluid, and so crucial to today’s entrepreneurial journey, usually comprised of serendipity and intent i.e. the “Go Big or Go Home” Approach. An entrepreneur needs specific soft skills to facilitate resiliency and negotiation, both needed for the process AND the outcome. That’s why I suggested these specific soft skills to hone, in my latest article for The Huffington Post. 

There you have it; three benefits of reading and three questions to ask while reading. I find myself asking these three questions as a human being and as an entrepreneur, on an almost daily basis. They help me plot my course of action, stay the course, and navigate rough waters and bumps in the road. Reading helps me find answers to these 3 questions, as well as providing content curations and virtual mentorship about many more. It also helps me stay optimistic about the dance of humanity, and all its foibles. Most importantly, reading helps me “power up” and “power down”; two settings very familiar to today’s entrepreneur in our fast-paced startup culture.

The most important 3 credos I’ve gleaned from reading are:

1. Work hard and play hard.

2. Stay curious!

3. Give back. 

To be continued…..


What Makes Content Go Viral? The Ultimate Infographic for Entrepreneurs

"Even some of the smartest people on the planet, building some of the most world changing products in all of history, often forget that there are actual human beings on the other side of technology."

— Randi Zuckerberg, Author: Dot Complicated

"Smart phones and social media expand our universe. We can connect with others or collect information easier and faster than ever."

— Daniel Goleman, Author: Social Intelligence

I’m an avid reader, and thanks to my Maurice Pine Library (who is hosting a book signing for me today, thanks!), I often read several books at once. It keeps things interesting, and gives me good practice putting real and digital bookmarks to good use, and creating notebooks in Evernote, where I keep my clipped web links, notes, and misc. impressions of a variety of topics and books I’ve read. I’m currently reading the two books mentioned in the quotes above, and Creativity Inc. The latter was  mentioned in my  latest Wordpress post. In it, I asked this question:

Is entrepreneurship a work of art or a work of heart? 

It’s a theme I’ve explored in previous posts I wrote here on Tumblr, there on Wordpress, and even for my column on LinkedIn and The Huffington Post. It started when I wrote my book, The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur .

In it, I discuss balancing humanity and technology in today’s startup culture and social media marathon. One which is an endurance race to gain a customer’s attention span and loyalty. One where entrepreneurs in particular need to know about two buzzwords; social currency and behavioral economics, and how to creatively and methodically wield these new tools of the Digital Age. 

That’s where today’s question comes into play: 

What makes content go viral? 

I am known to be a social entrepreneur, who didn’t go into entrepreneurship for the money. But I am also well aware of the current state of affairs re: the shared economy, the rise of consumer power, and the continued glass ceiling women in entrepreneurship have to contend with. That’s partially why I try so hard to learn about marketing, and to find time to blog about it and other related topics. It’s important to me to leave a bread crumb trail for the Sisterhood; so needed in today’s iEra! 

I’ve already shared tips and insights into content curation and content creation, but now want to share tips re: the next step of content marketing; virality.

It’s something ALL of us need to achieve as entrepreneurs. Whether one is a service based entrepreneur like myself or a product based entrepreneur, it is always on our minds and to-do lists. I thus want to share this post with you which has excellent, succinct tips on fostering viral content….

Best. Social Media. Content Marketing. Infographic. Ever. 

It dovetails nicely with one of my NICE Initiative Seminars, Crafting a Digital Avatar with Heart, which will be the topic of my library talk tonight. 

I want to thank Diane Bertolin, fellow female entrepreneur and blogger, for putting this article on my radar today. It’s SO great that I am dedicating a post to this link alone! It’s already saved in my Evernote notebook and in my Pocket App :-) 

I want to thank fellow Twitterati, Liz M Lopez, for sharing the first picture below, “Social Media Explained” on LinkedIn last week, and putting it on my radar as well. It’s a funny look at the various digital platforms out there. It gives one food for thought about viral content, and how to tailor it through different channels. I already posted it on this board, my NICE Initiative Board, on Pinterest :-) 





Are You Following the Breadcrumb Trail or Creating Your Own?

"My advice to people looking at my life is not to follow my footprint but to go out there and make their own."

— Jackie Joyner- Kersee

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my first post in this Tumblr series about Summer Homework for Entrepreneurs I listed 5 suggestions. They are based on my NICE Initiative philosophy and story, and my ongoing mission to balance humanity and technology. Here they are again: 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.
2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.
3. Read more!
4. Play more!
5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.
I started expanding on these 5 pointers here, while taking time to continue learning and applying, while also unplugging at regular intervals. I have seen first hand, that by changing my inner landscape, I can change my entrepreneurial outcome over time. I have seen that this is especially important when deliberately choosing which online content I will be curating, which experiences and actions I will pursue in real time, and which social networking and relationships I will be cultivating both online and offline for increased growth; mental and emotional. That’s why the second suggestion I gave in this series is: 
Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.
I’ve written about this before in my various blogposts, and in my book, The NICE Reboot, but it bears repeating here again. 
Having a planned digital footprint which includes some type of blog is integral to today’s entrepreneurship, especially for women ‘treps. Why? 

1. To authentically show transparency re: company culture

2. To consistently integrate digital marketing with the overall mission 

3. To easily access/provide a crucial virtual mentorship and collaboration tool which yields:

• Emotional resonance by showing other viewpoints and that you “get” them, especially when you cite other people’s posts in yours. I call this “connecting the digital dots in the iEra”. It’s how we learn, how we partially display social media etiquette, and how a woman in business can subtly display her cooperation and  emotional intelligence skills. Also, it happens to be one of my signature blogger moves i.e. stylistic structures (as well as providing 2 quotes to start each post:) which I employ for more interesting writing! 

• Much needed thought leadership on the power and pitfalls of today’s startup culture….especially for women founders! 

So how can women bloggers in entrepreneurship better walk the tightrope between marketing their service/product i.e. promo-selfies and displaying their unique voice? How does one imbue their digital footprint with meaning and individuality?

There is much chatter in the blogosphere about best practices re: one’s social media wording, web traffic, and marketing campaign strategy. There is less chatter about practical, easy, and free ways women in business in particular can both follow a breadcrumb trail and create their own, so that others learn valuable lessons about what it really takes to succeed in today’s startup culture, and how success is perceived. So that we can contribute to the ongoing debate about whether or not entrepreneurship is learned by doing or taught by seeing

Here are Penina’s Pointers re: Digital Breadcrumb Trails for ‘Treps: 

1. Consider blogging and sharing/citing others’ posts, to show that you are NICE (Nice. Informed. Competent. Entrepreneurial).

2. Consider writing book/misc. reviews for Amazon, and use your business signature! It’s OK to brag a bit. Be a micro-blogger and critic! See this sample of various reviews I’ve done on Amazon, using my business account. (Yes, entrepreneurs should have a personal AND business account for less confusion, two wish lists, two different credit cards on file, and an easy way to positively expand your digital footprint!) 

3. Consider creating a YouTube or Vimeo channel with trailers. Be a visual storyteller and get in touch with your creativity and tech-savvy! Prepare yourself for giving a TED Talk one day…oh wait, that’s my dream :-) 

4. Consider joining Twitter and Google+,  and becoming part of different “communities” and forming your own ecosystems. Be both a student and teacher of the universal classroom created by social media! Be strategic about your social media presence, especially if you are a woman founder!  P.S. There’s life beyond Facebook, especially since the recent algorithm changes means that your business page may not be getting the reach you wanted. I had that happen on Facebook, but I am really loving the engagement I’m getting on Twitter and Google+. Both channels are also a great way to curate content i.e. do “social listening”! 

5. Consider uploading attachments on your LinkedIn profile, white papers etc. and create a co-existing Slideshare account that uses your LinkedIn password for access. Be helpful! I actually share my decks and others too, in my Public Evernote Notebook of Free PDFs, which is linked to my website.

6. Consider becoming active in social causes and publicizing the good work these organizations do. Try guest speaking and guest blogging. I am a big supporter of Autism advocacy and have a monthly column in the Friendship Circle Blog. I am also a big supporter of our American library system and will be speaking at this library on 7/21/14, about the breadcrumb trail of social media, and of the important roles libraries in general play re: breadcrumb trails for all entrepreneurs. 

I will leave you with this excellent post about 5 questions to ask yourself re: leadership, which I believe is both an active and passive (digital footprint) process. I also believe that these are 5 crucial questions to ask yourself about your entrepreneurial (and blogger) breadcrumb trail….the one you create by first following others; online and offline. 

To paraphrase the awesome Apple™ iPad® ad: What will your verse be?

To be continued…..





Four “Digital Detox” Takeaways for the Entrepreneur

"It is very telling what we don’t hear in eulogies. We almost never hear things like: “She never stopped working. She ate lunch at her desk. Every day.”

— Arianna Huffington, Thrive

"Work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process, and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work, and the bliss of leisure."

— EF Shumacher, Small is Beautiful, Buddhist Economics

Americans just celebrated Independence Day, and in my latest Wordpress post, I wrote about its implications for innovation and entrepreneurship. I wrote about what I think the difference is between independence and freedom. What the difference is between being busy vs. being productive. How to rethink one’s work-life balance and ten tactics to get you started.

Why? So that you can pivot as needed to achieve goals and become a “now-ist” as Joi Ito says in this great TED Talk. 

Summer is an excellent time to live in the present, and make it all about the “now”. To take time to reflect and reenergize. It’s why I suggested 5 homework assignments for entrepreneurs in this recent Tumblr post, which I will be expanding upon here as the summer goes on. The first assignment was: 

Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

A “digital detox” is becoming a real necessity, not just a luxury, for more and more people in this day and age. We need tech to help us travel more efficiently, something I advocate for. Road trips and a change of scenery are recommended for everyone to take time out to do…. if they can this summer! But we need to unplug from technology while doing so. Why?

To help us build our resiliency, especially in this economy. To help us own our individual happiness. Both impact on our habits and actions, and ultimately, on our job security.

It’s something that entrepreneurs in particular need to be mindful of. When? When reframing success and failure.  When harnessing creative thinking for problem solving (our raison d’être). When challenges arise and life gets hard. Life is not a Disney film, and entrepreneurship is a roller coaster, especially if you are like me; trying to embed social entrepreneurship into my company’s DNA, and trying to pursue  profit AND purpose. It’s all about attitude, mindset (the cousin to attitude), and commitment to your legacy. 

These are things I wrote of in my book, The NICE Reboot, and speak about. I discuss them in my NICE Initiative Seminars which have officially started in June, when I spoke for the WCEC Event in NJ. Achieving a living legacy and better balance of humanity and technology are things I passionately believe in; which is why I am mindful to monitor my digital reputation and digital footprint, my need for a regularly scheduled “digital detox”, and my ever evolving Theory of Mind (perspective, empathy). It’s why I love the two photos I share below, the first of which was given to me by Richard Zreik after he reviewed my book on Amazon

Unplugging from technology allows you to have a better mind-body connection and see things with your mind’s eye, not just your actual eye. This facilitates episodic memory, learning, and visualization of the actions you want to take to achieve goals. It also allows you to manage stress, remember what it means to be human, and remember why you are taking the journey you’re on in the first place; no matter who you are or what it is. 

I had a complete “digital detox” during the long July 4th weekend and jotted down 4 takeaways….what I gained, what unplugging can do for others. Here are four benefits to consider: 

1. Change your view, change your inner landscape’s topography 

2. Rediscover your 5 senses, rediscover your happy memories and purpose

3. Reboot your inertia, reboot your “moxie” and drive

4. Listen to your inner voice, so you can add value later on to the collective voice of your industry/profession

There’s an interesting deck on Slideshare that’s on my radar as a futurist. It’s entitled “20 Jobs of the Future” and slide #17 is “Digital Detox Therapist”. I kid you not! Click here to see the entire deck. A book about the perils of being connected to tech all the time is in the works. Click here to learn more. There’s even a camp for adults where you pay someone else to enforce your “digital detox” which you can read about here. I think that’s rather extreme, but I applaud the sentiment behind it. 

We all need to weigh the pros and cons of being connected to tech all the time. Summer is a great time to do this, especially when Nature beckons, just like it does in this cool commercial, “The Great Outdoors”. Entrepreneurs in particular, who have MANY reasons to better balance humanity and technology, need to embrace unplugging more often. We need to view the “digital detox” as one more weapon in their arsenal against stagnant thinking, burnout, and <gasp>, the dreaded “promo-selfie” on social media. My third photo below says it all! 

To be continued….

Happy Unplugging!






What Happened to The American Dream? Are We Teaching Our Children Skills to Pursue it? Food for Thought for Independence Day, by Penina Rybak, on LinkedIn. 

What Happened to The American Dream? Are We Teaching Our Children Skills to Pursue it? Food for Thought for Independence Day, by Penina Rybak, on LinkedIn. 

Power to the People: Celebrate Independence Day Right!

"I never take myself or other people for granted."

— Jackie Joyner-Kersee

"Goodness is about….how we treat other people."

— Dennis Prager

The July 4th holiday weekend is upon us, and many Americans will be celebrating Independence Day with family and friends, good food and an outdoor BBQ (I hope:), and some long overdue and well deserved downtime. In my last post here on Tumblr,  I wrote about summer homework for entrepreneurs. I suggested a list of 4 assignments, starting with unplugging from technology and your social media feeds. 

This holiday weekend is a great time to break bad habits and start new ones for increased productivity. Habits that help you work smarter, not harder. Habits that help you be happier. Habits that help you learn better. So that you can more effectively re-connect with people, and yourself, including your "inner child", in real time. So that you implement network building, not just networking; something I wrote of in last week’s Wordpress post, which you can read here

There is power in being interested in others. There is power in recreating yourself, each time you take a “digital detox” and let your inner voice get louder. There is power in spending time with friends and family, especially if children are involved. These are important things to remember, especially as entrepreneurs. As I wrote in my latest blogpost for LinkedIn about the pursuit of the American Dream:

What we choose to do this summer as a family, has implications for the future of our nation’s children, not just ourselves. It has implications for the stability and longevity of the American job market too. It’s something we all need to be concerned about, given the global and digital future of our collective workplace.

What we choose to do this summer, starting with Independence Day, will have an impact on our long term efforts to lead a more fulfilling,  authentic and balanced life. It sets examples for others, especially children, something I’m mindful of as an educator, social entrepreneur, and someone who has a very visible digital footprint. Taking a “digital detox” is part of due diligence and entrepreneurial maintenance re: digital reputation management and harnessing time. Think of changing a car’s oil, or a Brita filter. It’s something I’ve written about in my book, The NICE Reboot, and in previous blogposts here, on Wordpress, and even in The Huffington Post

So let’s celebrate the birthday of this great land, and the people in it. Let’s declare our independence from “group think” and busy work. Let’s take time to rethink our entrepreneurial game plan and overall goals in life. Let’s try to better balance our cravings for humanity and technology in today’s startup culture! Let’s actually take a physical and mental vacation!

I want to end with two powerful photos that really resonated with me and fit nicely with the theme of this post. There is a new career description out there that entrepreneurs need to be aware of….futurist. It’s on my radar now, and will perhaps be written of again in depth another time. The question is:

What are you doing TODAY to shape your family’s future TOMORROW?  

To be continued…..




Summer Homework For Entrepreneurs

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.
—Lily Tomlin

It’s exciting to be able to have the opportunity to do things I always dreamed of as a kid.
— Warren Buffet

Summertime is here and for those of us in the Northeast who endured Snowmageddon 2014, it’s a pleasure to be able to be outdoors, unwrap some of those layers, and not worry about digging out our cars! Summer is a time when people are more inclined to do a “digital detox”. To unplug from their digital avatar so that they can heed their inner voice, take stock of what they learned so far, and connect more with people face to face. Which begs the questions for entrepreneurs in the Digital Age……

What summer homework should I be doing?

In my latest Wordpress post I asked another pithy question: 

Does the Education of Self Hinge On Learning From Others?

As a woman entrepreneur who believes that we are all both students and teachers in today’s startup culture, I make it a point to stress in my writings and social media posts that entrepreneurship is like the Hero’s Journey a la Joseph Campbell. It’s something that I wrote of in my book, The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur.

It’s something I read about again in this excellent blogpost by Adam Toren, cofounder of Since I view entrepreneurship as a process, I am less wary than others of my ilk (service based social entrepreneurs who happen to be female) when I encounter detours (which some see as mistakes and/or obstacles), or see that my trajectory is not a straight line. 

Someone else who writes about the female journey of success and self discovery is Tina Fey, whom I also mentioned in my book. Here is the excerpt: 

Many of us have read Fey’s hilarious, perceptive, plainspoken observations in her bestseller, Bossypants. I recommend it to all female entrepreneurs for both its humor and reflections about humanity. One passage in the book in particular resonated with me. I feel that we women are a different breed from men, male entrepreneurs in particular. That’s why I was so taken with Fey’s Rules of Improvisation on pages 84–85. Those two pages sum up ways in which women can more successfully contribute to those around them and more successfully navigate the balancing act of life and work. Fey provides keen strategies to implement, whether it be when conversing with others or trying to carve out a place for yourself professionally. Fey brilliantly suggests that to do so women should do more of the following:

  • Agree. “Start with a yes and see where that takes you.”
  • Make statements. “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Make statements with your actions and your voice.”
  • Make mistakes. “There are no mistakes, only opportunities. Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident.”

I re-read Tina’s truly great book Bossypants over the weekend again which got me thinking what else women entrepreneurs should be doing more of, this summer and beyond. I started to write myself some notes in Evernote, to enhance my visual thinking and organize my thoughts for this post. 

I realized that my Theory of Mind, my experience as an educator/pediatric speech therapist, not just a public speaker and entrepreneur, and my personal credo have all influenced my take on summer homework for entrepreneurs. I’d like to share that list (and welcome comments on what readers think should be added/omitted/revised and why!) 



1. Take time to regularly unplug from technology this summer.

It’s actually good for you! Read this post and find out why. See this cool but sad video about the importance of a regular “digital detox”. Take time to redefine and refine your vision. Go see nature and the beauty of the real world around you, and reacquaint yourself with your mind’s eye, not just what you look at on your screens! 

2. Rethink your digital footprint, especially if you are a blogger, and back off a bit and/or mix it up a bit.

This post gives you 5 signs you need to actually play hooky from blogging, although I personally suggest trying a different tack while maintaining momentum. This post gives you 10 signs that your life is on “cruise control”; your real life and your digital one. Reclaim both this summer, and rediscover yourself! 

3. Read more!

Invest in a library card and visit a bookstore JUST to browse! Read about things NOT related to your field of expertise, and read for fun and future success. Expand your horizons, empathy, and creativity. This post about the evolution of imagination, and this post on lessons from Dr. Seuss help me make my point: Entrepreneurship is all about seeing patterns where others don’t, resulting in the ability to problem solve and positively exploit situations in ways others won’t. 

4. Play more!

Get in touch with your inner child! It’s something that I wrote of in my book and excerpted here for The Huffington Post a while back. If adults today ask themselves, “Are you playing enough?” chances are the answer is no. Free play is indeed the best homework, something I was thrilled to read about here in The Atlantic this week. Entrepreneurship can be a mentally grueling, physically solitary, and emotionally dampening experience, especially in today’s startup culture and Hunger Games mentality! Remembering to reconnect with your inner child helps you stay balanced, not to mention helps you proactively engage in digital reputation management so that you don’t post things you’ll regret later. In my book I offer this litmus test: If you don’t want yourself as a child, or your own child to know you posted this sentence/picture etc. then make sure NOT to do “drive by” postings! 

5. Choose to pay it forward. Agree to provide thought leadership and real/virtual mentorship for others.

It’s in our female entrepreneurial DNA to calibrate our performance and success by how much of a positive impact our service/product has on our community, not just ourselves. My company’s name is Socially Speaking LLC because I’m all about helping people turn Me into We; in the classroom, in the startup arena, and online in the myriad of digital ecosystems which can and should intersect. Thanks to a globally shrinking community due to technological advances, and opportunities for increased civic engagement due to social activism, doing good can go beyond posting a hashtag such as #SaveOurGirls.

It starts small, like this little boy’s lending library in front of his house, but it continues with your decision to mentor someone or even provide a helpful blogpost to get others thinking about important matters. I want to thank Doug LaTulipe for creating his terrific and timely LinkedIn group, Pay It Forward, and for inviting me to participate. I also want to thank him for sharing this recent post on the nuts and bolts of mentorship. I also recommend this great post on how to be a better advisor to other startup entrepreneurs. 

I will be taking these suggestions to heart and in the coming weeks, I will be blogging here on Tumblr how I’ve implemented these homework assignments. The countdown starts now, but I will leave you with one final thought…..

Kathleen Davis, the Leadership Editor at Fast Company recently asked us in this very interesting post: 

Can Entrepreneur Barbie change girls’ career ambitions?”

I’d like to issue a challenge for myself and other woman startup entrepreneurs looking to make a real difference professionally AND personally: 

Can following The NICE Initiative Summer Homework List change the trajectory of both your overall journey and aspiration(s)?

On your mark. Get set. Go!





A Woman Entrepreneur Gets Schooled

"We don’t stop going to school when we graduate"

— Carol Burnett

"I’ve never let schooling interfere with my education"

— Mark Twain

School’s out and summer is upon us, but being human means we’re always busy learning, growing, doing, and experiencing. There is no hiatus from the human condition, at least while one is alive!  There is also no shortcut to success in life. It’s the result of hard work, discerning and positively exploiting patterns, and harnessing time; things I’ve written about previously here on Tumblr.

June is always a busy time for me, and this month is no exception. As the school year draws to a close,  I’ve been trying to work smarter, not harder. To actually be productive, not just busy. I’ve also been trying to be more authentic and balance humanity with technology; in my personal and professional life. It’s led me to professional development opportunities causing me to ponder the truth about entrepreneurship, and why one’s digital footprint and digital avatar matter.

I’ve been doing these things wearing all my hats; my speech therapist & Autism specialist hats, my iPad Evangelist & Digital Citizen hats, my ed-tech consultant hat, and my entrepreneur hat. It’s been exhilarating but exhausting juggling many different balls in the air. It’s been educational and even entertaining, regularly curating content on a variety of topics (thanks Zite App, Evernote App, and Pocket App! I couldn’t do this without you all!). 

So what have I learned that I can share with my fellow female entrepreneurs? 

In my book, The NICE Reboot- A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur, I created a Penina’s Pointer’s Section for each chapter with practical takeaways. I try to do the same in my seminars, and plan on doing this when I launch The NICE Initiative. I want to do the same here. 

But first I need to publicly thank Diane Bertolin; friend, mentor, fellow entrepreneur extraordinaire, and fellow blogger with beautiful style and content, for sharing pointers from my book, in her latest blogpost. I’m humbled and honored to share her insights, which you can read here

Penina’s Pointers- What Women Entrepreneurs Should Know:

1. Cash is king.

Don’t kid yourself, entrepreneurship is war. It’s something I’ve experienced first hand, and something Marty Zwilling shared in his blogpost about this book. Cash-flow management is a crucial component of your battle plan! So is exercising the imagination muscles in order to creatively execute your mission, problem solve re: your service/product delivery and your cash flow, and strategize re: your need to build rapport with and retain paying clients. It’s something I wrote more of in my book when I discuss business plans and getting clients. It’s something on my mind when I hear and read about the many challenges facing women seeking venture capital or still trying to bootstrap, like me. 

2. Content curation is queen.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, there are countless opportunities for virtual mentorship and thought leadership to learn and implement, not just for the purpose of digital marketing i.e. promo-selfies. Although providing helpful content is a step towards understanding your buyer personae; something that Rieva Lesonsky demonstrates beautifully in this post, and Diane Bertolin displays in this free eBook on Archetypes (which I share with others in my Evernote Notebook on my NICE Website). Content curation is a way of life for today’s entrepreneur who is both student and teacher. Start by asking these questions and then reading this great eBook, free from Geri Stengel. continue by browsing this TED Playlist and staying current with content curation tools, cited by Jeff Bullas. I personally love the free Zite App, my #1 MVP, and can’t believe it’s still not well known! 

3. Humor is your knight. 

Entrepreneurship can be a stressful, often grueling, sometimes lonely, and unpredictable roller coaster ride, especially if you are a woman founder providing a service, not a product, and your entrepreneurship is classified as a non-tech startup. Honing one’s sense of humor for better work/life balance is an active process; like learning, like improving one’s tech savvy or public speaking skills. It’s something I’ve discussed in my Socially Speaking™ Seminars re: Autism Intervention, and wrote of at length in my book, The NICE Reboot. You can learn more about my take on humor from this deck on my Slideshare page.

Humor is needed to help us better learn and accept the workings of our world, take constructive criticism, be resilient, and counteract perfectionism; the enemy of all human beings.  Understanding and using comedy can actually improve our leadership skills, and our ability to accept ourselves. It can also enhance our deep learning and episodic memory, our perceptions about reality and people in our reality AKA Theory of Mind, and the way we view the world at large. It’s one of the reasons I love funny commercials, especially this one for the rumored Apple iWatch, and why I love observing and interacting with animals. See these photos of animals posing in what appears to be different Yoga positions, and tell me you’re not laughing! 

Entrepreneurship today is very much a chess game where the players can move across the board much more quickly and strategic alliances are that much more crucial. That’s why social media and one’s visibility within it are essential to one’s game plan. That’s why seeking help and mentorship are important components of one’s workflow, especially if you are a woman entrepreneur.

We’ve come a long way since women were granted the right to vote! Our collective thought leadership and portrayal in the media has as well. Just look at these hilarious, vintage, and sexist ads, to see what I mean! 

The question is, what are you doing to “push the envelope” of your entrepreneurial journey?

I love these two quotes by JK Rowling and Jack Welch, which I found on Google+ and Pinterest (you can find me there too:) and posted below. 

Interested in more “Penina’s Pointers” re: women entrepreneurship and leadership in the Digital Age? You can find me and my writings on LinkedIn, HuffPost, Wordpress, and here. 

Interested in live educational and entertaining insights and practical takeaways re: women entrepreneurship and leadership in the iEra? You can learn more about hiring me to speak at your next event by visiting my LinkedIn profile or my NICE website. I hope we can connect soon! 



Talking Human, Speaking Social: Crafting a Digital Avatar With Heart

"I work with other people to really get people to understand what their unique genius is by understanding their archetypal complements.”

— Diane Bertolin, Archetypal Consultant, Interview: School for Startups Radio, June 6, 2014

"Stop thinking about technology! Think about the human solution."

— Brian Solis, Principal: Altimeter Group, Author: What’s the Future of Business, Tumblr Post, June 10, 2014

As an educator and Autism Specialist turned entrepreneur, I have been blogging about and particularly interested in the psychology of marketing and behavioral economics behind disruptive innovation and social media use in the iEra. It’s something on my radar again since Apple’s WWDC Keynote Address last week, which I wrote about for my blog on LinkedIn. You can read my post here. It’s on my mind again since I just gave a speech about current trends in social technology which raised questions re: time management, social media marketing campaigns, and balancing its overall use with humanity.

I just attended the Growth Meetup organized by Diana Kyser McNeff, for the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation of NJ. I presented some of the rules of engagement re: crafting one’s digital avatar. 

Using my NICE lens and personal experience within the entrepreneurial and social media arenas, I provided these takeaways for the talented, diverse, intrepid, and intelligent women and two lone supportive gentlemen entrepreneurs I met: 

  1. The real purpose of one’s digital avatar is to mirror one’s learning style, attitude, and actions to transition from Me to We re: digital citizenship and an entrepreneurial ecosystem
  2. The 3 E’s of Digital Avatar Engagement: educate, entertain, encourage change
  3. “Talking Human” as a digital avatar is accomplished best when using storytelling to foster emotional resonance via visuals and humor
  4. “Talking Human” as a digital avatar means problem solving and collaborating:
  • Addressing pain points in your niche (social listening, content curation, content creation-blogging etc.)
  • Citing blogposts and social media posts of others (attribution, sharing helpful and/or insightful information, thought leadership and virtual mentorship)

I also touched on the fact that digital citizenship today includes digital reputation management and crafting a digital avatar that:

• Fosters relationships & interactions across platforms

• Uses technology playfully AND meaningfully

• Connects behavior with products/brands

• Visibly networks & combines ideas & outcomes in new, positive, creative, and unexpected ways 

Today’s startup culture is so tech-driven and competitive, it’s easy to forget that part of achieving self actualization is transitioning from Me to We. It’s easy to forget the “social” in social media, which is often used for trivial posts, selfies, and written promo-selfies. While those are part and parcel of the human condition, and result from our drive to grow customer loyalty and sales, we need to remember to “talk human”. To craft a digital avatar with heart. It’s more than just using stories and hashtags to promote activism and subsequent emotional attunement.

While both are important byproducts of digital avatar use, its real purpose is to consistently and creatively engage people in 3 ways:

• Educate them

• Entertain them

• Encourage changes in their behavior and thought process

This will have a ripple effect on the creation of impactful and meaningful social media exchanges between like minded people sharing an ecosystem not just a digital platform.

So that our collective mission online is more aligned with our individual missions in real time. So that we can do real good by making our entrepreneurial journey AND outcome about profit AND purpose, my ongoing mantra in my book, The NICE Reboot and the reason I am working on launching The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship

One’s digital avatar is useful for an entrepreneur’s personal branding and for convincing someone why to purchase your service/product. It’s also quite useful for showcasing one’s archetype which can resonate with other people’s buyer personae. This gives your business a personality and subsequent leverage; something that I’ve learned, and that Millenials understand well. Something that’s often overlooked by seasoned, less tech-savvy CEOs.

The truth is that social media training is no longer optional.

Crafting a digital avatar with heart shouldn’t be either. 

Want to learn how the NICE Initiative can help you “speak social” better and better balance your humanity and technology in today’s startup culture? Hire me to speak at your next entrepreneurship event on 6 timely and related topics! The Proposal PDFs are available for download on my Slideshare page and in my shared Evernote Notebook online. To learn more about my speaking history click here and here

I look forward to having a human conversation and seeing how I can help you talk human in the Digital Age too!





Lessons in Manners & Mannerisms: What This Entrepreneur Learned from a Book Signing

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou

"It takes people to make the dream a reality.”

— Walt Disney

Last Thursday I attended my very first book signing at the annual BookExpo America at the Javits Center in Manhattan. I was there to autograph copies of my book, The NICE Reboot-A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur: How to Balance Your Cravings for Humanity & Technology in Today’s Startup Culture. I was there because as a professional speaker, I understand the power of face-to-face communication and networking. I was at that trade show to proactively and subsequently expand my contact list and learn from others. 

New York City, where I’m from, is a very interesting place. It’s the ultimate networking event and people-watcher heaven for psychology grad students, medical students, marketers, lawyers, and writers, just to name a few. It’s no coincidence that the ultimate archetypal TV show Suits, takes place in Manhattan. It’s no coincidence that archetypal consultant and blogger extraordinaire Diane Bertolin recently wrote about Suits; (a show we both love) and about distinct personae being found in every situation/workplace/story. This venue was no exception.

People from all locales and industries (related to book publishing), were there to meet, greet, see, be seen, and get freebies. I couldn’t get over the misc. BookExpo swag, and how many tote bags were given out and lugged around! I couldn’t get over the line of people patiently waiting for an autographed copy of a David Baldacci book (I didn’t catch which one:) I couldn’t get over the lessons in manners and mannerisms playing out in front of my eyes, and then being reenacted by myself, as I set up my table with my books and pens, and juxtaposed my chair and the sign.

I became autographer, salesperson, philosopher, improv comic, and journalist, all in the span of a few hours! I was reminded of this quote: 

"All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.

— William Shakespeare

I was also reminded that curiosity is underrated and that asking questions is a powerful way to connect with others, learn new things, and apply them. A group of female biker librarians from Ohio (I kid you not!) stopped by my booth. We started chatting and they asked for signed copies of my book, made out to them; their biker name and real name. Since this was a first for me, I asked each one a little about themselves so that I could personalize my inscription in their book.

One woman was very taken aback. Nervous that I somehow offended her by asking her questions about herself, I apologized profusely. She started laughing and said that nobody at BookExpo America (it was her third “tour”) had EVER signed her book while asking her how they could personalize it!

I was floored.

What’s the point of a book signing if not to humanize the author, the reader’s experience, and forge connections???

As I finished inscribing her book, the woman thanked me for teaching her something new about the entrepreneurial mindset vs. a writer’s mindset. Her words resonated with me long after she left my booth. I’m still thinking about our conversation and the book signing in general. I’m pondering how an entrepreneurial mindset differs from the other mindsets of writers at that trade show.

I’m thinking of 3 takeaways I want to share from my experience, using my own Theory of Mind and NICE lens in the process. 

Lessons From a Book Signing & The Entrepreneurial Mindset: 

1. It’s not about YOU! It’s about THEM!

I want people to buy, read, review on Amazon, and recommend my book to others. It’s that simple. But that book signing was not just about me. It was about them; their needs, their memories that shape them, and their feelings when meeting me. So I made sure to: 

Ask questions and ignore protocol (just sign it and keep the line moving, nope!).

• Use humor, something else I discuss in my book. Humor is essential in life, social communication, and in business, for so many reasons; some of which are listed here. I’ve written extensively about humor in my Wordpress blog (click here and here for a sampling) and in my Socially Speaking™ seminars and social skills curriculum I developed in 2010. Humor is a great connector and equalizer, something I’ve learned as both an educator/Autism specialist and entrepreneur. It’s one of our most powerful weapons as sentient human beings, and an untapped goldmine for entrepreneurs in particular! 

2. If YOU have fun, it’s also fun for THEM! 

I like to think I’m a creative person, but I know that I need to actively engage in pursuits and conversations that let my creativity flow. That’s why I regularly engage in “digital detox” and “Outdoor Therapy” every chance I get to ensure that my life is balanced. That’s why I’m a huge fan of reading books; all different genres. That’s why I advocate getting in touch with one’s inner child; especially as as an entrepreneur. I wrote about it in my book and again in this article for The Huffington Post. So I made sure to have fun with people and:

• Talk about what they’re reading, and their opinion of libraries

• Talk about what they like to “play with” in their leisure time and what they played with as a childwhich led to a deeper discussion about balancing humanity and technology. (which is why my book signing lasted 3 hours instead of the allotted one!)

3. If YOU understand yourself and your Theory of Mind, you can read THEM better and predict their movements/actions/wants/needs better!

It’s apparent that neuropsychology is no longer tethered just to the medical and/or educational arena. Marketing, biotech, business, and entrepreneurial folks have all joined the club and gotten 5 psychological gifts that help them woo, understand, retain, and troubleshoot for prospective/present/vacillating clients. It’s a wonderful world for deep thinkers and startup founders alike who can now harness the “power of the persona” from all points of entry…from getting venture capital i.e. seed money to generating “buzz”, to building better teams. I met so many people at different points of their entrepreneurial journey and made sure to mention that:

• The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and learning styles have real application to the workplace and entrepreneurship; something I write of in my book.

• Social media channels, especially Pinterest and Twitter, are great examples of content curation, visual storytelling, and social listening to gain insight into/provide information on buyer personae. I touch on this in my book too. 

I learned so much from the wonderful people who attended my book signing; about networking, communication, opportunity, perspective, and authenticity. I tried to be helpful, respectful, and true to myself and to my NICE mission. Living a life that matters starts with conducting oneself a certain way; something that Maya Angelou taught us, something that my best friend who lost her battle with cancer in 2012 taught me. It’s why I dedicated my book to her. It’s why I am continuing to work on launching The NICE Initiative.

Manners and mannerisms have a common denominator - time. Time dictates which manners are called for when, and which mannerisms and vocabulary are accepted as the “norm” when. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope that one day soon, more women will tell me, "I was at BookExpo America 2014 and read your book, and will now recommend it and become a NICE Entrepreneur!"

Talk about a successful, empowering book signing! 





Remembering and Being Remembered: What Will Your Verse Be?

"If I can’t be a soldier, I’ll help soldiers."

— Clara Barton, Founder of The Red Cross, 1821-1912

"One’s legacy is not something to be considered near the end of a career. If we are to leave a legacy it must be managed from the beginning."

— Simon Senek, Author: Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last

Memorial Day: A Time for Remembrance

Memorial Day is upon us, which has morphed into a long holiday weekend for many Americans; all of whom owe a debt of gratitude to our soldiers. Something I just wrote of in my Wordpress Blog, and shared again in my LinkedIn blog. You can see that post here. We need to thank those whose military service make the world a better place; especially those who died in action. To honor those American soldiers who find opportunities within the crisis and inspire us to ask ourselves, “What can I do with my life today?”

This is something that I’ve been thinking of, since my best friend lost her battle to breast cancer in 2012, prompting me to write my book ,  The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur. This is something that recently hit home again when: 

• President Obama dedicated the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NY.

• I attended a subsequent women’s leadership and entrepreneurship symposium in NJ, which I wrote about in this article for The Huffington Post.

• I was just interviewed by fellow Fem Geek & ‘Trep Anie Akpe re: women in entrepreneurship and the technology space, which you can read about here.

• I again saw this awesome iPad Air commercial asking that immortal question, What will your verse be?

• I read this very moving, insightful post by fellow blogger and true social media guru Diane Bertolin, who shows us the real meaning of strength and grace.

• I read this  poignant, thought provoking post by fellow entrepreneur and true woman leader Liesha Petrovich, who shows us the real meaning of resiliency and discipline. 

What Will Your Verse Be?

Memorial Day is one of those American holidays that make us rethink our human need for connection with others; no matter our geographical locale, our digital avatar, our career, or our definition of strength and resiliency.

It makes us rethink what work/life balance looks like, and what our legacy will be. Our contributions to our inner circle (family and friends), our community, and our society as a whole. Our relationship with each other, near and far, thanks to the spread of technology, education, democracy, and yes, entrepreneurship. Our ongoing attempts to balance Me and We, humanity and technology, and even busyness with actual productivity. All of which impact on our need for self actualization. Our need to harness time and reframe success and failure; especially if we are in the entrepreneurship arena.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given, because of the military service and personal sacrifices others have made. Who have preserved and still do, the freedoms and way of life that so many of us take for granted; especially today. I would like to humbly acknowledge the American troops; stateside and abroad, who will be forever remembered for their heroism. Who have taught me what resiliency really looks like. I would especially like to thank our other unsung heroes, the military wives, for their selflessness, sacrifices, and their bravery. For teaching me the true meaning of the terms “pivot” and “legacy”. For teaching me what it means to live a life of purpose.

I don’t define “legacy”,  “success”, and “creating" using the parameters most people use. To me these words connote living a life that matters, that impacts others for the greater good. They convey an understanding of one’s role on this earth. They convey an understanding of the importance of using that knowledge to craft a life and career, where the mind and heart are in sync with daily routines and bank accounts. It’s about knowing that your story positively intersects with the story of others, creating a ripple effect that you may never know but others do. It’s about updating Maslow’s Hierarchy for today’s paradigm shifts within our globally, socially, and economically connected society. 

Entrepreneurs can learn so much from our troops and their families….How to create services and products that solve real problems. How to help people globally long term. How to embed civic engagement and philanthropy in ongoing missions. These are the hallmarks of having achieved that sustainable legacy, and that true measure of humanity; self-actualization.

What do you want to be remembered for?